After losing two potential seniors off of 2019's offensive line, the Nittany Lions received a bit of welcome news on Saturday afternoon. Guard Steven Gonzalez announced he will return for his final year of eligibility.
One last ride! We Are... pic.twitter.com/lJYFVozMCA
— Steven Gonzalez (@StevenG511) January 5, 2019
Since falling 27-24 to Kentucky in Tuesday's Citrus Bowl, there has been a steady stream of departures from the program. Shareef Miller, Connor McGovern, Ryan Bates, Kevin Givens, and Miles Sanders have all declared for the NFL Draft, and wide receivers coach David Corley was let go. Linebacker Dae'lun Darien also announced his intention to transfer from Penn State to be closer to his ailing father.
Gonzalez, a four-star prospect out of Union City, NJ, has been a regular in Penn State's lineup since his redshirt freshman season in 2016. He started three games that year and appeared in 11 during the Lions' run to the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl. He has started all 26 games the last two years at guard.
He will serve as the elder statesman of an offensive line that will undergo some big changes in 2019 after the departure of both Bates and McGovern. 2018 starters Michal Menet and Will Fries both return as well, but with at least one tackle and one guard spot up for grabs, Gonzalez' experience figures to be a key component of the 2019 unit.